Sungura icon Alick Macheso’s long-awaited album, Tsoka Dzerwendo, hits the streets tomorrow. The Madhawu-hitmaker says he owes his success to Nicholas “Madzibaba” Zakaria and his wife Margaret Gweshe whom he described as his foster parents. The Standard Style’s Moses Mugugunyeki (MM) spoke to Macheso (AM) ahead of the album release and below are excerpts from the interview.
MM: When you left Nicholas Zakaria to form your own group, Ochestra Mberikwazvo, there were reports that you and Madzibaba were not in good books. What is your relationship like with Madzibaba?
AM: When something like this happens people are bound to talk. Mudhara Madzibaba and his wife groomed and nurtured me to be what I am today. I owe my success to both of them who made sure I had food on my table from the formative years of the Khiama Boys when I was a kit boy. Mudhara Madzibaba taught me how to play the guitar when I was 15 years old. They saw me growing in music until I moved to form my own Ochestra Mberikwazvo. There was no bad blood between me and Mudhara Madzibaba when I left Khiama Boys and we are always in touch.
MM: A few months ago Madzibaba proposed to have a collaborative album with you? What’s your take on the idea?
AM: It’s true we have mulled over the idea and it’s something that I am eagerly looking forward to. I just hope it’s something Zimbabweans are expecting from us as sungura musicians. We are also planning to have joint shows across Zimbabwe involving Khiama Boys and Ochestra Mberikwazvo. I just envisage a moment when Macheso and Madzibaba share the stage.
MM: Did you feel an impact when some members of Ochestra Mberikwazvo deserted you to form their own group?
AM: I wouldn’t want to say there was a gap when they left, because we had equal replacements. What was missing were their faces at live shows, but in terms of performance we were the same old Ochestra Mberikwazvo. Don was the first to leave seven years ago but he is back, that same applies to Obert Gomba who is back and played drums on some songs on the latest album. Jonas Kasamba is back, but never contributed anything on the album and Noel Nyatsanza is on his way back.
MM: What about Franco Silomo?
AM: The door is wide open for any member to return. It’s a case of a Biblical story where the father accepts his prodigal son. When the boys left, we were always in touch. Some would come back to me to ask for money and other things and as a father, I have never forsaken them. They are also staying in houses at Chigumba area in Chitungwiza which they benefitted as Ochestra Mberikwazvo members. There were forces behind these boys’ decision to leave and I don’t have any problems with them.
MM: I heard you earlier on talking about PHD (Pull Him Down) syndrome in the music industry. What do you mean by that assertion?
AM: There were reports that I was failing to produce because I feared so and so. People who peddled these reports were only there to tarnish my image and “pull me down”. I know we have rivals in the industry, but as a musician you have to expect that. When those boys left some people were all behind this in a bid to weaken my band.
MM: Besides making a name, have you benefitted from the industry?
AM: Music was the reason why I managed to buy sipokisi rebhasikoro kwete bhasikoro racho (the bicycle spoke, not the bicycle).
MM: What do you mean?
AM: When I joined music I had nothing, so to be what I am today it is because of music. I have never known any job other than music. I have a lovely family and house all because of music. I thank the Almighty for this.
MM: Coming to your forthcoming album, why did you take long to come up with a new project?
AM: I was in the studio all along trying to come up with a quality product? You will find out that it was a well-thought project and Zimbabweans will love it.
MM: Have you gone back to the original Macheso beat?
AM: Its a blend of the old and new Macheso beat. You will find out that some songs on the album have the Charakupa, Shedia or Madhawu style, while on others I have kept the Orchestra Mberikwazvo beat. Yes, we have people who have tried to imitate, but on this album you will feel the deep Cheso Power beat.
MM: What is it like to be a humanitarian ambassador for a brand like Zimbabwe Red Cross Society?
AM: I come from a humble background and I know the face of poverty. I joined Red Cross because I believe in humanitarian work. When I was staying in Chitungwiza, I used to assist the less-priviledged and I would buy extra groceries to help those that would have come to my place. At Red Cross, I have learnt a lot and I just wish that we all help one another. I am advocating for first aid training to be made compulsory in schools and other institutions. For those that have old clothes, bring them to us so that we hand them over to the less-priviledged.
MM: Anything that you would like to share with the readers?
AM: I still have the energy to perform and I am still the old Macheso that you used to know. My social life has never distracted me from my music and I am happy God is by my side because everything is going accordingly.
MM: We wish you the best on your forthcoming album.
AM: You are welcome, I hope it won’t fall prey to midhosvo [piracy].